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How fence laws may impact homeowners

In many California communities and elsewhere throughout America, local laws restrict artificial fences to a height of 4 to 6 feet. If a homeowner puts trees or bushes along a property boundary, these plants may be considered a fence in some cases. In general, the height of a natural fence may be limited to 5 to 8 feet. There are exceptions that may allow a homeowner to retain a fence that violates the law.

For instance, if the fence was built before an ordinance was passed, it may be allowed to remain. If a new fence is constructed in its place, however, it must meet all applicable regulations. A variance may also be granted by a city if a fence is being built to protect against noise from a highway or other adverse conditions.

A boundary fence may be owned jointly by two homeowners, which means that they are both responsible for its maintenance. Both owners must pay to repair or maintain the fence because both benefit from its existence. If one party refuses to live up to their obligation, the other party has the right to demand relief either through a letter, mediation or a formal lawsuit. If necessary, a fence viewer may also be called in to look at the fence and determine a reasonable cost to repair it.

Should an individual become entangled in a homeowner dispute, it might be worthwhile to consult with an attorney. It may be possible for legal counsel to review the facts of the case and help that person reach a reasonable outcome with the other party. An attorney may also be able to represent a client during mediation or help draft a demand letter. Such steps could help resolve a dispute while preserving relationships between neighbors.

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